Posts Tagged ‘American Gods’

Sus Among Us

April 3, 2022

Neil Gaiman’s 2001 romcom novellina ‘American Gods’ followed the doings of a ragtag band of faded deities, whose powers and even basic existence waxed but mostly waned as fewer and fewer people believed in and worshipped them, setting up an eventual WWF-style slugfest with newer, flashier ‘gods’ cribbed from an Alien Workshop t-shirt — television, the internet, online securities trading, et cetera. As a historical artifact of the early ’00s, the tome can be alternately regarded as a blueprint for the current day’s ‘clout culture’, a case study in hackneyed character naming, and a cautionary answer to that age-old question: If a tree falls in the woods and it has no followers, does it make a sound?

For those skilled, inspired and fortunate enough to have achieved a form of immortality via trick names, the tale is much the same. Tricks such as Mike McGill’s McTwist retain gravitas among 1980s documentary makers and the several vert contests that continue to be held each decade, while Mike Smith’s grind and Alan ‘Ollie’ Gelfand’s breakthroughs remain in daily, trap music-soundtracked circulation. Alchemical creations such as the Barley and Bennett make occasional, respectable appearances, while others like Eric Dressen’s salad grind over time seem to consistently land outside the stylistic guardrails that separate the ‘Guiltys’ from the ‘Fulfill Tha Dreams,’ or the Guy Mariano of ‘Mouse’ from that of ‘Pretty Sweet.’ Some, like the k-grind, are genericised into ‘crooked grinds,’ leaving cultural residuals uncollected somewhere offstage, piling up like so much interest in an unattended offshore bank account, held in the name of some absentee hadropod.

It’s difficult to tell via IG whether Aaron Suski has grown more solid or powerful over the past couple of weeks, as his namesake backside tweaked, backside 5-0 grind has been plucked from somewhere in the vicinity of those trick-selection guardrails and freshly deployed by a number of young hot shoes: Deathwish’s Brian O’Dwyer dished one out at Muni last week in a vid for OJ Wheels with his Philly entourage; Colombian Creature fiend Jhancarlos Gonzalez scraped one down a serious handrail in Thrasher’s recent ‘Am Scramble’ vid. Sean Pablo, a longtime practitioner, kickflipped into one on IG on the cusp of springtime.

Is the Suski grind an underutilized gem or detritus better carted away as more profitable seams are mined? Plenty worse tricks, not limited to misadapted ramp moves such as the Losi grind and objectively bad ones like the Willy, have managed to not only periodically resurface but occasionally get elevated in big vids, or argue for erasing the concept of ‘illegal tricks’ altogether. Probably the strongest argument in favor of rescuing the Suski grind from the pioneered-and-put-away-again pile is its rarified alumni of backers over the years — Aaron Suski may have gotten his name hitched to it, but Kevin Taylor still owns the most iconic version, down the CA hubba in Transworld’s ‘Sight Unseen’; Antwuan Dixon and Pete Eldridge, those still-hallowed potentates of grace and power, also have used it to lasting effect.

If the Suski grind’s recent usage helps to refill some mystical power meter for Aaron Suski, should some of those supernormal protons also rightfully flow to Kevin Taylor, legendary in his own right as among the very few to never have ever taken a bad photo? How much of the Suski grind’s lack of relative staying power can be attributed to its possible labeling as ‘too easy’? If the backside ‘overcrook’ has been quietly acknowledged as the lone ledge trick in which the non-grinding back truck can acceptably be tweaked over top of the ledge*, should room be made for the Suski grind to live, given the longstanding acceptance of frontside and standard crooked grinds’ angling of the non-grinding truck away from the ledge?

*As applied to versions done on ledges